Profiling Alphonso Smith

At first glance, Alphonso Smith might not look like the most imposing defender. At 5'8", 193 pounds, he sometimes looks like a high school player on the field. But don't let the small frame fool you; Alphonso Smith is a true shut-down corner.

Not only was Smith a four year starter at Wake Forest, but he also holds the career interceptions record for the entire ACC with 21. Considering the competition he's faced, this is no small accomplishment.

Smith has squared off with several "big-bodied" receivers in his college career, defending the likes of Calvin Johnson (6'5"), Aaron Kelly (6'5"), Darrius Heyward-Bey (6'3"), and Greg Carr (6'6"). Smith was also awarded All-ACC honors his junior and senior seasons as well as First team All-American honors his senior year.

Smith may have the best ball skills of any corner in the 2009 draft class. With fluid hips, Smith stays low in his back pedal and changes direction with ease. Unlike some corners, Smith seems to enjoy contact, preferring press-man coverage and showing more than adequate tackling ability in the open field.

Smith also has a knack for jumping the route and making plays as he showed throughout Senior Bowl practices in Mobile. Smith is also comfortable returning kicks and punts, which he displayed on several occasions at the Senior Bowl.

Jumping the route is also one of Smith's weaknesses. A gambler, Smith has been burnt while guessing and may be vulnerable to the double-move.

Obviously, Smith doesn't have ideal height for a corner, but when I asked him about it, he didn't seem the least bit concerned. "You've got to have ball skills," said Smith. "There are a lot of guys out there, 6-feet, 6-foot-1, with absolutely no ball skills at all, so it kind of defeats the purpose. And having the chance to go against Greg Carr for four years in a row, Calvin Johnson, Aaron Kelly, and those big guys every year, it's been good."

Alphonso Smith is considered by most to be a late first round draft prospect along with the likes of Vanderbilt's DJ Moore and Illinois' Vontae Davis. Smith could potentially be overlooked on draft day by teams that fail to see past his height and fall into the top of round 2.

However, if Smith were two to three inches taller, he could possibly be a top 15 pick in the draft. Smith is the type of player that's always smiling and truly enjoys playing the game. If a team has the smarts to get over his height, Alphonso Smith will make a great addition to any defense and will become an instant contributor.

Will Spencer

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